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Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Siren Call of Watercolor...

Well, I did it. After five+ years I pulled my poor neglected watercolor supplies out of storage and actually got some paint on the brush. I'm not an accomplished watercolorist (yet!) - just a dabbler - but the airy brightness of watercolor is more than I can resist. I've been reading Jeanne Dobie's Making Color Sing and decided this time around I'd try using a limited palette that's loosely based on her "Pure Pigment Palette" - plus a few other colors. For me, too many color choices is more of a hassle than an asset so I'm going to use some basic colors and add sparingly as I go. I'm hoping that using a limited palette will also help me to keep the focus more on values than color. Since it has been so long since I've used watercolor, a color chart seemed like a good place to start. Boy, was that fun! I was surprised - and thrilled - with all the bright, yummy colors I got from just twelve basic colors (Aureolin, Rose Madder, Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Cad. Red, Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue, Hooker's Green, Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Phthalo Violet). I'm posting a pic of the chart I made - it was just slightly larger than my scanner bed so a little of the edges got lost.

Here's what I learned from making this color chart:

1. Aureolin plus Cobalt Blue, or Viridian, or Phthalo Blue or Hooker's Green makes beautiful Spring-like greens.

2. Rose Madder and Alizarin Crimson both make a gorgeous purple/burgundy when combined with either Cobalt Blue or Phthalo Blue or Phthalo Violet. I immediately wanted to paint blueberries when I saw those color combos!

3. Phthalo Blue is STRONG! Wow. This is a very dominant color - use sparingly in mixes.

4. I got some great dark shades without having to use a black or dark neutral from a tube.

5. I'd like to add a Cerulean Blue to the palette.

I plan to keep the chart close by when painting...as a guide.... and an inspiration!

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